Part 2 from guest blogger Adarsh

Woke up this morning feeling fine
Got The World Cup on my mind…
We gonna host it the way it should
Something tells me I’m into something good..!

I just can’t explain it! It was a feeling that maybe I got as a kid – a feeling of hope, a feeling of pure excitement when I woke up. I was going to the World Cup opener!
That feeling only magnified when I met up with my pal Jason and saw the same giddy and goofy smile on his face!   

I have watched many international and domestic games at The Oval and for me it strikes the right balance as a cricketing venue: there is magnificence but no obnoxious opulence, there is history but a drive to modernise, and there are traditions but they don’t hinder the fun aspect for the spectators!

We were sat in the Peter May Garden which provides one of the best vantage points to enjoy the game. With blue skies breaking through the early clouds, the chitterchatter of people around and a small opening ceremony of inflatable Cricket Balls in the 10 team colours with an aerial acrobat bringing the Trophy out – we kicked off the day.  

One can get a match report from any source, so the following are my standout highlights and opinions from being a spectator from within the ground:

  • To the surprise of most, Imran Tahir’s spin option was opted for instead of the pace options to start off the bowling.
  • Vaughan on TMS had mentioned that the Pitch has got a little bit in it and could cause issues to England. However, with such a deep batting line up I don’t think there was too much to worry about.

Pockets of green celebrations and most of the crowd stunned as the explosive Jonny Bairstow was OUT for a duck… His shot was not the usual self-assured stroke but rather a tentative push forward just nicking it through to the keeper.  The classic Tahir celebrations were just too good to watch!

  • Root came out, a few classy shots for 4s, a few close calls when popping it up into the air but missing the fielders.  Much needed in the context of the game.  
  • Roy had to reign in his usual hard hitting style and defend a bit against Kagiso Rabada cracking up speeds of around the 90mph mark – that’s fast and furious!
  • The England Captain Morgan scored the 1st 6 of the Tournament. 
  • Stokes’s innings was eye catching to say the least in terms of temperament and playing to the pitch as he pushed on beyond the 50’s of Root, Roy and Morgan to get 89 which was desperately needed by England in the circumstances. He got to his 50 is style with a sort of a reverse paddle dil-scoop. 
  • There was a lot of chat amongst the fans around me as to AB de Villiers won’t be missed as Butler is to take his place in world cricket as a 360 degree player. Well, he only got 18 this time round but it’s only the start – plenty of games to come to show his magic.
  • I noticed that the English batsmen didn’t really attack the part timers Markram  and Duminy which was a little frustrating to see. 

On to South Africa’s Innings..

  • Seems like my earlier prediction of Jofra Archer having a noticeable tournament is starting to come true. Extra bounce, extra pace, just all round X-Factor from the young man. Great figures of 7 overs, 1 Maiden and 3 wickets with an economy rate of 3.8. 
  • It was sad to see Hashim Amla hit by a bouncer flat on the grille where he had to go off retired, hurt. However it was brave of him to come back. 
  • In my opinion I know David Miller hasn’t had the most smooth run in ODIs for South Africa, but his quality and big game experience would have come in handy to bridge the gap of the 104 runs that they lost by. 
  • De Kock looked in fine nick (68 with 6 4s and 2 6s). He also had a bit of luck at 25 when , off the bowling of Rashid, the ball hit the stumps but didn’t dislodge the bails! Nobody could believe it! 
  • Cricket always provides a bit of comic relief and we got some where the ball was lost
    behind the sight screen after Van der Dussen had hit a 6. So Joe Root went over where he found the ball but hilariously struggled to get out. Eventually a steward had to help him get out! 
  • Plunkett’s selection over Wood or Curran was a bit of strange one for me. I know he is consistent in getting wickets at International level, but it seems he has lost a bit of pace and accuracy recently.
    Well, I take those words back as even though he was a tad expensive he got 2 key wickets. 
  • THAT catch… Phehlukwayo pelted Rashid with a slog but then Ben Stokes diving backwards, sticks out one hand to somehow grab the ball from the heavens! If not the catch of the tournament already, it will certainly be amongst the top 3?

In the end a clinical, workman like performance from England with a no fear of failure attitude showed throughout the team. South Africa were actually outperformed in all departments today but it’s a long tournament so cannot write-off any team as yet.

Finally in the words of one of the best English all-rounders Sir Ian Botham, “Whatever you do in cricket and in sport, enjoy it, be positive and try to win”  England were positive and definitely played with a smile on their faces. Those smiles were beaming with that catch!  ☺

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